It’s still early yet. This is a race with a lot of films with pockets of fans. In a year like that, whether you hear it online or not, whether you see it in critics awards or not — what matters isn’t what the loudest people say. What matters is what the most numbers of people out there can agree on is best. That doesn’t mean “best” and it doesn’t even mean great or lasting or perfect. Nor does it even necessarily amount to a high achievement in cinema. It just means the film that a majority of people can agree on as best. That is how we must decide Best Picture in the era of the preferential ballot. Winners generally don’t get there because of a passionate last minute surge, as they might have way back before things changed for Best Picture at the Oscars.
The first thing that must be said about the Globes this year is that the night was brimming over with female empowerment. It was everywhere and palpable. There is going to be an urge by people to say that last year was the #OscarsSoWhite thing and this year is the #MeToo thing. What that says to me is that change is thought to be temporary — a bandaging of a wound to make Hollywood feel better about itself for one night. Everyone talked about how this is the end; well, I was there in 2001 when Halle Berry gave her beautiful speech as the first black woman to win Best Actress. That was 16 years ago. No black woman has ever won since then. Change is a lot harder than powerful speeches and handing out gold statues. I will remain cynical until I see for myself actual, sustained change. I thought Get Out’s popularity meant that maybe it was true, that maybe a film could stand on merit, without necessarily being part of a hashtag or movement to push it forward — that it could just be a great movie. But it still comes up against the same wall that this is still a town, an industry primarily about the white narrative.
There is no need to turn it all into a bummer, however: it was still an exciting night for women. By my count, Lady Bird is only the third film directed by a woman in all of Globes history to win Best Picture in either category (the other two are Yentl and Lost in Translation). Gerwig was overjoyed to win and her excitement was infectious. Clearly she had a lot of support in the room and will continue to have support throughout the remaining days of this Oscar season.
Oprah Winfrey received the Cecil B. DeMille Award, becoming the first black woman to do so. She brought down the house with her speech, one of the best speeches anyone has ever given at the Globes, to be sure (and no small feat given Oprah had to follow in the footsteps of Meryl’s legendary speech just one year ago). What I’ve always loved about Oprah is that she never waited around for anyone to tell her what she could and could not achieve. She had big dreams for herself and it never occurred to her to wait around for anyone else to make them happen. It’s nice to see her get recognition for her lifelong contribution to American culture.
Okay, so how about the Oscar race?
Let’s look at category by category.
For Best Picture, the Globes voters seemed to really like three movies: Three Billboards, The Shape of Water, and Lady Bird. Those three seem strongest out of there, which is how the race has been for a while now, with the addition of Get Out. Here are some stats to remember:
- Without a director nod at the Globes, Lady Bird, should it become the Best Picture winner, is in Driving Miss Daisy territory. Driving Miss Daisy won at the Globes and at the Oscars even though its director, Bruce Beresford, was not nominated for Best Director at the Globes, the DGA, or the Oscars. Greta Gerwig seems like she’ll ace the DGA and Oscar nomination — they wouldn’t dare not nominate her now after tonight. The entire Globes ceremony was basically an FYC ad for Lady Bird and Gerwig. She will have the momentum in her favor big time after this. The only stat it’s missing is that one, the Globe director stat. It can be overcome.
- Three Billboards has been the stat champ heading into this thing, missing only the NBR Top Ten. The WGA complicates matters because it can’t win there as it did at the Globes (Greta Gerwig will win that WGA, I would imagine). Three Billboards might be the movie most people agree on as best, but it also might be a competitive year where no movie wins in the first round and then you’ll have to start redistributing ballots to see where they go. Frances McDormand’s presence and speech, however, sent a lot of good will that movie’s way that it didn’t really have before. Her performance is, as we keep saying, electrifying. If Three Billboards is already locked in as a consensus favorite, we will know it the night of the PGA. But we must await DGA nominations to see if it gets in there.
- The Shape of Water would have to be like Braveheart to win Best Pic. Braveheart won Best Director at the Globes, but didn’t have a SAG ensemble nomination, but then went on to win Picture and Director anyway. It is beloved, timely, and won Original Score and Director at the Globes.
- Get Out was shut out, unfortunately, which means that it would have to start building momentum at one of the other big awards events coming up, like the SAGs or the DGA or the PGA. Many still believe it’s quite easily the best film of 2017 so it isn’t just going to fade into the background, as least I hope not, but there was such an enormous push for women filmmakers at the Globes that making a case for Get Out in the midst of all of that might be tough, especially since the three above films are all female-driven.
- Dunkirk can still become the leader if it takes over at the PGAs. Remember, The Hurt Locker didn’t win any Globes and was nominated for only three of them. It won the PGA and that was that. The only thing it had that Dunkirk doesn’t was SAG nominations.
Overall, I would say that Lady Bird got a major bump, Three Billboards is the Best Picture frontrunner heading out of this night, and The Shape of Water is still in there.
Since 2000, the winner of Best Director at the Globes has gone on to win Best Picture or Director at the Oscars seven times.This is a year where Picture and Director are either going to split or not, and in almost all instances where Best Director split from Best Picture since 2009, all the winning directors won the Globe first: Alfonso Cuaron, Alejandro G. Iñarritu, Damien Chazelle. When Ben Affleck didn’t get an Oscar nomination for Argo, Ang Lee ended up winning Best Director. But Affleck still won the Globe for Best Director first. Though admittedly not that much of a sample size to go on, all of this tells me that Guillermo del Toro has a pretty good chance of bringing home Best Director for The Shape of Water, which could also win a bunch of other crafts awards. But Christopher Nolan and Dunkirk are still in play. As always, the DGA will be the bellwether in this race.
We’ve been down this road before, or at least I have. The Best Actress, Drama winner goes up against the Best Actress, Musical/Comedy winner — it’s always tough. I would not bet against Saoirse Ronan this year, especially if Lady Bird doesn’t win Best Picture. They would want to award it something major besides Original Screenplay. It will depend on how much they like the movie, which appears to be a lot. Frances McDormand has won before — although she clearly deserves to win again for Three Billboards, it’s uncertain whether she will. It is probably a two-person race from here on out, however, and Ronan will be a formidable campaigner.
Gary Oldman gave a beautiful speech at the Golden Globes, full of humility and wisdom. I would say he solidified his status as the frontrunner, and clearly deserves the win. Many will still be pushing for a Timothee Chalamet upset, which could mean the race gets pretty ugly. Still, nothing happened to change the Best Actor race tonight.
Sam Rockwell bested Willem Dafoe in Supporting Actor, which was an early sign that Three Billboards was popular with the HFPA. He gives what is arguably a lead performance and was always a threat to overtake Dafoe, whose role isn’t quite as big. Does that mean Dafoe will lose the Oscar? It’s just going to depend on how things go. We have no idea, really, until the SAG Awards, and even then it might be a toss up.
Alison Janney has taken the lead for Supporting Actress, but that could definitely change come Oscar time, especially if Lady Bird continues to grow its popularity. I, Tonya is beloved by voters but also has a group of detractors who think it is too dark to be funny. Manohla Dargis, for instance, tweeted “what’s so funny about a husband beating up his wife,” in reference to the film being placed in the Musical/Comedy category. To me, it was dark, pitch black humor like Fargo or Wolf of Wall Street, both of which were also nominated as comedies at the Globes. When I watch I, Tonya, I don’t laugh at the scenes of abuse — I feel sad about them. Nonetheless, who knows how I, Tonya’s popularity is going to play out in the next two months, what think pieces might arise, or where it goes from here. The only thing we know for sure is that Alison Janney and Margot Robbie are brilliant in their roles.